There’s no doubt that advertising is powerful. No wonder regardless how ineffective or unhealthy that something being advertised as long as it includes with the right triggers, people will be hooked on it. Through this trend, there are some people who consider advertising as evil. However, when done in a positive way and used it for worthwhile things like encouraging children to eat more vegetables, it’s worth it and effective.
Are you skeptical? Well, believe it as one study1 published at American Academy of Pediatrics found that mimicking the advertisements used in fast foods is just as effective for vegetables.
The reality, children are not accustomed to eating enough servings of vegetables. Plus, the reality of most parents never fed their children with whole foods because they prefer pre-packaged and processed foods as these are easier and quicker to prepare. Certainly, when it comes to school, the children’s eating habit do not match with the government’s effort to give kids the healthy options resulting to the tossing of fruits and vegetables.
However, this study had proven the measurable impact that exposing children to branded vegetables (the researchers called it) by using characters is effective in encouraging children to choose vegetables at school. The study was conducted in a large urban school district, and 10 elementary schools participated in the study. Then, the researchers created control conditions, which has the following conditions;
- A vinyl banner displaying vegetable characters that is fastened around the base of the salad bar
- Short television segments with health education delivered by vegetable characters
- A combination of the vinyl banner and television segments
The researchers then assigned the schools in one of these 3 treatment conditions along with a control group that does not have any of the modifications mentioned. This is done in order to measure the results and to have a clear view at the end of the study whether advertising done in this manner is effective, or otherwise.
When the researchers tallied the results according to the following conditions mentioned above, here’s what they found. A 90.5% increase in students who took vegetables from the salad bar with the vinyl banner displaying vegetable characters. And, what’s even more interesting, there is a 239.2% increase when vinyl display and short television segments are combined.
Isn’t this interesting? Definitely, it is, and the researchers concluded;
Evidence from this study highlights the positive impact of branded media on children’s vegetable selection in the school cafeteria. Results from this study suggest potential opportunities for using branded media to encourage healthier choices for children.
Probably, the very first thing parents should do is limit the children’s screen time to reduce exposure to TV ads advertising processed and unhealthy foods. It has been recognized by health authorities that too much screen time is bad for children. The NIH provided tips and guidelines on their website on how to reduce screen time in children.
And, parents should consider changing their menu to include more fresh fruits and vegetables. At home, when this is done, it can significantly improve the kids gut health eventually boosting the immune system, and avoiding early symptoms of metabolic syndrome.